Swans

Late autumn, a man stands
still—his body leaning over Taku
Lake, drawn by four swans: cob, pen,
two cygnets, who float within arm’s reach.
The man sees me watching him, smiles,
glorious, aren’t they? I want, he says, to
come back as a swan. I nod. I want that, too,
or nearly. Mine’s a vegetable love: forget-
me-not or, rarer, briefer, twin flower. Fragile
basins, stretching leaves. Without pain, with
out punishment. Animals, especially human,
insist on far too high a price for living. From
each other, from themselves, from an earth that
spins and circles much too slowly for them.

***

Jill Dery has published stories in Bellingham Review, Fourteen Hills, and others; she’s published poetry in Antiphon, San Pedro River Review, Penn Review, and Broad Street, and has poems forthcoming in Tule Review. Her MFA in poetry is from UC Irvine. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she’s lived in Anchorage since 1992.